Meet Lakes by Yoo, an 850-acre estate of luxury homes and apartments for those who want their own piece of the Cotswolds for a weekend, or indeed forever.
These properties offer all the advantages of country living with none of the cons, rentable for romantic escapes, better for fun-filled family getaways.
WHAT TO PACK
Once a quarry, The Lakes by Yoo were transformed into, well, a gated luxury country commune, with nearly 150 holiday homes scattered around 9 lakes, meadows and woodlands, some originally designed by the likes of Philippe Starck, Kate Moss and Kelly Hoppen. Outside of those wanting to buy their own property within The Lakes, the apartments and cabins are rentable for two-night stays or more.
Glass-clad buildings with timber and Russian larch alongside local touches of Cotswold stone and locally woven willow make each property particularly striking in their aesthetic yet seamlessly blend into the rural surroundings. Cosy wood fires, four-poster beds, Ren and Bamford products in amongst the comforting rain showers, well-stocked kitchens and plenty of throws for colder nights are all interior touches that make these cabins a very comforting countryside getaway.
It’s a celeb hangout and I can understand why. Acres of peace and quiet with little to no interruption. There’s a monastic hush in the air which is deeply relaxing, it’s hard to imagine you’re merely 90 minutes away from London. Talking of London, the majority of visitors and house owners are Londoners. But you only meet other residents or holidaying families if you hang out in the social areas – you can quite easily spend the whole time in your own home, taking walks, cycles or partaking in any of the activities with your own group (more on that later). While the summer holidays are bound to be a very busy time, Autumn is particularly special with the changing colour of the leaves and burnt orange sunsets as you wrap yourself in cashmere and sip on a Merlot at night, on your terrace overlooking your own lake.
If rustic is what you’re expecting, this is not what you’ll find. Apartments can sleep 6, spaciously and well-laid out. An open-plan living and dining area leads out to a large deck hovering over a lake, freestanding bath tubs and sumptuous armchairs asking you to sink in to them all evening, all accentuated with oversized lamp shades, masses of Conran cushions everywhere, and a selection of Jane Austen novels dotted around.
Or you have houses like the Barnhouse – a five-bedroom, seven-bathroom, open-plan property designed by Kate Moss that oozes opulence. Grand plush velour sofas and decadent silk rugs, striking animal print cushions and a silver mirrored cabinets, an outdoors, always-heated pool awaits and a deck where you’ll want to hunker down and watch the ducks swim by.
The Food + Drink
Opt for a breakfast hamper delivery with still-warm pastries, smoked salmon and farm-fresh eggs, honey made within 5 miles of the property, granola, orange juice, all delivered to your doorstep. Note: The fresh air does open up the appetite.
Dinners can be delivered from a local private caterer, perhaps ask your personal concierge to arrange your own BBQ, or head out to Elsa’s where you can expect log fires and exposed wood furniture all under a trendy tipi for toasties, wood-fired pizzas and regular evening offerings. (Make sure to get there early before they run out!) Throughout the day, you can grab easy grub including tarts, sausage rolls and cakes, your barista coffee and a full drinks menu.
The Little Extras
Sustainable living lies at the heart of the estate’s ethos, with conservation and ecology at its core. On the estate, over 500,000 trees have been planted, a farm created, bees cultivated, and millions invested to create an ecologically respectful environment. There are also a variety of initiatives and fundraising programmes which support the local community.
The To-Do List
Though the estate’s hub – with a spa, 17-metre indoor pool and vintage gin van – is steps away from the cabins, The Lakes’ real charm lies away from its manicured pathways. Hire a bike and explore wild meadows, shaded woods and a gurgling stretch of the River Coln. If you have kids in tow, it’s paradise for den-building, tree-climbing and lake-splashing as well as a kids club for children aged four and above.
If adventure is on the cards, they have a menu full of “extra-curricular”, particularly for the energetic outdoor enthusiasts in your group. Kayaking, zip wire, biking, tennis courts, paddle-boards, even a dip in the freshwater lake should you have the appetite for it.
The thing about Lakes by Yoo is that it’s in an ongoing state of development. The demand is clearly apparent given the amount of new construction, so while you may enjoy your stunning lake views, you’ll have a backdrop of skip and cement.
Heading to the Cotswolds is our British equivalent of the Hamptons. Dreamy lakeside cabins amongst particularly well dressed fellow travellers, roasting marshmallows and evenings on your balcony watching the stars. After you’ve driven through Chipping Norton, stopped off at The Double Red Duke, and you’re in the Lakes itself, you could probably be just about anywhere in the British countryside. But the houses are a great alternative to Soho Farmhouse or The Newt for a group getaway, and you’ll be reassured to have a very content and refreshing getaway.